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The Paradox of Respectability in Black Women's Literature
The "black family" in the United States and the Caribbean often holds contradictory and competing meanings in public discourse: on the one hand, it is a site of love, strength, and support; on the other hand, it is a site of pathology, brokenness, and dysfunction that has frequently called forth an emphasis on conventional respectability if stability and social approval are to be achieved. Looking at the ways in which contemporary African American and black Caribbean women writers conceptualize the black family, Susana Morris finds a discernible tradition that challenges the politics of respectability by arguing that it obfuscates the problematic nature of conventional understandings of family and has damaging effects as a survival strategy for blacks.
The author draws on African American studies, black feminist theory, cultural studies, and women’s studies to examine the work of Paule Marshall, Jamaica Kincaid, Edwidge Danticat, and Sapphire, showing how their novels engage the connection between respectability and ambivalence. These writers advocate instead for a transgressive understanding of affinity and propose an ethic of community support and accountability that calls for mutual affection, affirmation, loyalty, and respect. At the core of these transgressive family systems, Morris reveals, is a connection to African diasporic cultural rites such as dance, storytelling, and music that help the fictional characters to establish familial connections.
Cultivating an Ideal Society in Early America
Collegiate Republic offers a compellingly different view of the first generation of college communities founded after the American Revolution. Such histories have usually taken the form of the institutional tale, charting the growth of a single institution and the male minds within it. Focusing on the published and private writings of the families who founded and ran new colleges in antebellum America--including Bowdoin College, Washington College (later Washington and Lee), and Franklin College in Georgia--Margaret Sumner argues that these institutions not only trained white male elites for professions and leadership positions but also were part of a wider interregional network of social laboratories for the new nation. Colleges, and the educational enterprise flourishing around them, provided crucial cultural construction sites where early Americans explored organizing elements of gender, race, and class as they attempted to shape a model society and citizenry fit for a new republic.
Within this experimental world, a diverse group of inhabitants--men and women, white and "colored," free and unfree--debated, defined, and promoted social and intellectual standards that were adopted by many living in an expanding nation in need of organizing principles. Priding themselves on the enlightened and purified state of their small communities, the leaders of this world regularly promoted their own minds, behaviors, and communities as authoritative templates for national emulation. Tracking these key figures as they circulate through college structures, professorial parlors, female academies, Liberian settlements, legislative halls, and main streets, achieving some of their cultural goals and failing at many others, Sumner's book shows formative American educational principles in action, tracing the interplay between the construction and dissemination of early national knowledge and the creation of cultural standards and social conventions.
Racial Coalitions and Political Power in Oakland
The Color of Power is a fascinating examination of the changing politics of race in Oakland, California. Oakland has been at the forefront of California’s multicultural changes for decades. Since the 1960s, the city has been a shining example of a fruitful liberal black-and-white political partnership and the successful incorporation of black politicians into the political landscape. But over the past forty years, the balance of power has changed as a consequence of dramatic demographic trends and economic circumstances. The city’s formerly dominant biracial political machine has been challenged by the demands of new multiracial interests.
The city, once governed by a succession of black mayors and majority black city councils, must now accommodate rapidly growing Asian and Latino communities. While the black-led coalition still relies on white progressive support, this alliance has weakened due to a shift in the progressives’ agenda and the voting habits of the black community, the rise of a Hispanic-Asian coalition, and a strong demographic decline of the African-American population. With similar demographic changes taking place across the nation, Oakland’s experience provides insight into the multiracial future of other American cities.
The Color of Power investigates Oakland’s contemporary racial politics with a detailed study of conflicts over issues like education, elections and political representation, and crime. Trained as a journalist, a political scientist, and a geographer, the author provides a unique perspective supported by numerous maps and extensive interviews.
Federalist Intellectuals and the Shaping of an American Culture, 1800-1828
In Coming to Terms with Democracy, Marshall Foletta contends that by calling for a new American literature in their journal, the second-generation Federalists helped American readers break free from imported neo-classical standards, thus paving the way for the American Renaissance. Despite their failure to reconstitute in the cultural sphere their fathers' lost political prominence, Foletta concludes that the original contributors to the North American Review were enormously influential both in the creation of the role of the American public intellectual, and in the development of a vision for the American university that most historians place in a much later period. They have earned a prominent place in the history of American literature, magazines and journals, law and legal education, institutional reform, and the cultural history of New England.
Bridging Socio-Ecological Research and Practice
The debate over the value of community-based environmental collaboration is one that dominates current discussions of the management of public lands and other resources. In Community-Based Collaboration: Bridging Socio-Ecological Research and Practice, the volume’s contributors offer an in-depth interdisciplinary exploration of what attracts people to this collaborative mode. The authors address the new institutional roles adopted by community-based collaborators and their interaction with existing governance institutions in order to achieve more holistic solutions to complex environmental challenges.
Modernism, American Literary Studies, and the Problem of Culture
The term "culture" has become ubiquitous in both academic and popular conversations, but its usefulness is a point of dispute. Taking the current shift from cultural studies to aesthetics as the latest form of this discussion, Eric Aronoff contends that in American modernism, the concepts of culture and of aesthetics have always been inseparable. The modernist concept of culture, he argues, arose out of an interdisciplinary dialogue about value, meaning, and form among social critics, artists, anthropologists, and literary critics, including figures as diverse as Van Wyck Brooks, Edward Sapir, Willa Cather, Lewis Mumford, John Crowe Ransom, Raymond Weaver, and Allen Tate. These figures proposed new ways to conceive of culture that intertwined theories of aesthetic and literary value with theories of national, racial, and regional identity. Through close readings, Aronoff shows that disciplines and approaches that are often thought of as opposed—cultural anthropology and aesthetics, American literary history and literary criticism, and multiculturalism and regionalism—are in fact engaged in common debate and proceed from shared arguments about culture and form.
Nationalism, Symbolism, and the Imagined South in the Civil War
Nationalism in nineteenth-century America operated through a collection of symbols, signifiers citizens could invest with meaning and understanding. In Confederate Visions, Ian Binnington examines the roots of Confederate nationalism by analyzing some of its most important symbols: Confederate constitutions, treasury notes, wartime literature, and the role of the military in symbolizing the Confederate nation.
Nationalisms tend to construct glorified pasts, idyllic pictures of national strength, honor, and unity, based on visions of what should have been rather than what actually was. Binnington considers the ways in which the Confederacy was imagined by antebellum Southerners employing intertwined mythic concepts—the "Worthy Southron," the "Demon Yankee," the "Silent Slave"—and a sense of shared history that constituted a distinctive Confederate Americanism. The Worthy Southron, the constructed Confederate self, was imagined as a champion of liberty, counterposed to the Demon Yankee other, a fanatical abolitionist and enemy of Liberty. The Silent Slave was a companion to the vocal Confederate self, loyal and trusting, reliable and honest.
The creation of American national identity was fraught with struggle, political conflict, and bloody Civil War. Confederate Visions examines literature, newspapers and periodicals, visual imagery, and formal state documents to explore the origins and development of wartime Confederate nationalism.
Cinema, Writing, and Modernity in Rio de Janeiro
Consuming Visions explores the relationship between cinema and writing in early twentieth-century Brazil, focusing on how the new and foreign medium of film was consumed by a literary society in the throes of modernization. Maite Conde places this relationship in the specific context of turn-of-the-century Rio de Janeiro, which underwent a radical transformation to a modern global city, becoming a concrete symbol of the country's broader processes of change and modernization. Analyzing an array of literary texts, from journalistic essays and popular women's novels to anarchist treatises and vaudeville plays, the author shows how the writers' encounters with the cinema were consistent with the significant changes taking place in the city.
The arrival and initial development of the cinema in Brazil were part of the new urban landscape in which early Brazilian movies not only articulated the processes of the city's modernization but also enabled new urban spectators—women, immigrants, a new working class, and a recently liberated slave population—to see, believe in, and participate in its future. In the process, these early movies challenged the power of the written word and of Brazilian writers, threatening the hegemonic function of writing that had traditionally forged the contours of the nation's cultural life. An emerging market of consumers of the new cultural phenomena—popular theater, the department store, the factory, illustrated magazines—reflected changes that not only modernized literary production but also altered the very life and everyday urban experiences of the population. Consuming Visions is an ambitious and engaging examination of the ways in which mass culture can become an agent of intellectual and aesthetic transformation.
Fifty years after most francophone African countries gained independence, the concept of "engagement" is undergoing a change in both terminology and practice as contemporary francophone African writers expand their forms of commitment to include aesthetics, in addition to politics, and to broaden their context to that of world literature. Cazenave and Célérier offer both an overview of this transition and an analysis of the literature of these writers.
The Politics of Bondage and Freedom in the New American Nation
The fifteen original essays in this collection examine the politics of slavery and antislavery in the traditionally overlooked period between the 1770s and the 1840s, challenging the standard narrative in which slavery played a peripheral role in regional and national politics.